Three children sitting in a woodland den they’ve built.

With the summer holidays drawing closer, you might be searching for exciting activities to keep your children or grandchildren entertained while they’re off school.

National Trust properties across the country are hosting fun activities and events for you to enjoy as a family. They’re a fantastic option if you want to spend time outdoors and take in some history. In many cases, you’ll also be able to explore the properties, which you may need to purchase a ticket for, and beautifully maintained gardens.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere local, a day trip, or an attraction that’s close to your staycation, you can find activities that will keep everyone entertained.

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Anglesey Abbey is a great option if you have younger children thanks to the Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area. Nestled in the woodland, it includes a tree house and other playground equipment that they’ll love to explore.

The natural area is perfect for imaginative play, with a whole den building area and children are encouraged to create wild art around the Discovery Cabin.

For older children and adults, the location is ideal for learning more about nature. There are viewing platforms to keep an eye out for birds and pond life. The gardens at the abbey cover 114 acres and are filled with history.

Croome, Worcestershire

The TREEmendous Trail at Croome is perfect for learning more about nature as you walk around – there are 10 different leaf shapes you’ll need to spot during your adventure.

Children at a local primary school have also helped put together an activity to help explore nature – Croogles. Before a trip to Croome, head to the website to download, print, and decorate some Croogles.

The National Trust has released a challenge called “50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4” that’s perfect for a few trips during the summer months. If your child plans carefully during a visit to Croome, they’ll be able to tick off 36 of the challenges.

Gibside, Newcastle

Gibside gives you an opportunity to explore a Georgian landscape just outside of Newcastle. There are more than 600 acres to discover as well as a Palladian chapel, stable block, grand ruins, and the Column to Liberty rising above the landscape.

As with many National Trust properties, Gibside includes a nature playscape that encourages children to use their imagination. In addition, there’s a challenging low ropes course, a flying disc golf course, a brass rubbing circle, hidden geocaches, and much more.

Rowallane Garden and Springhill, Northern Ireland

This is a great destination to get active with children. Throughout the summer months, the property brings back classic sports day activities for you to try. From a three-legged race to a bean bag toss, how have your skills fared since school? There are also traditional lawn games, like croquet, to enjoy.

Close by, you can canoe on Strangford Lough, climb to the peak of Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains, or cycle around the many beautiful trails.

Erddig, Wales

The landscaped park of Erddig was designed in the 18th century by Emes. It includes an original feature, a cylindrical cascade, commonly known as the cup and saucer. If you want to explore the building, you can venture inside the Servants’ Rooms to see how porters, housemaids, and gamekeepers once would have lived.

For young children that want to blow off steam, the Wolf Den is perfect. The natural play area means they can wobble over balance beams, soar on a rope swing, and build their very own hideout in the woods.

Wembury, Devon

Wembury is one of the best places in the UK to explore rock pools and you can easily spend a few hours searching the pools when the tide is out. You can expect to find limpets, sea anemones, starfish, and crabs. You can download a rock pooling guide before you go to help identify what you find.

If you want to learn more and benefit from an expert, the National Trust regularly runs guided tours that will help you make the most of your time here.

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

As part of the National Trust’s partnership with Sport England, Polesden Lacey will have outdoor activities to challenge the whole family during the summer months.

Every other week, there’s an opportunity to meet the park rangers too. They’ll talk about the woodland and conservation work they carry out, as well as showcase some of the tools and machinery they use. It’s a great chance for inquisitive minds to learn more about nature and caring for it.

An aerial view of a housing estate in the UK.

Over the last year, house prices have soared. If you’re searching for a new home, it’s not just the purchase price that could be higher. You may also find that Stamp Duty costs are more than you expect.

Having an accurate understanding of the costs of moving home is crucial for effective budgeting. So, here’s what you need to know about Stamp Duty and why the bill could be higher than anticipated.

The average house price has increased by 13% since March 2020

Despite initial concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic would dampen the property market, statistics show the opposite is true.

High demand means the average UK house price has increased by 13%, or £29,000, between March 2020 and May 2022, according to Zoopla research. In the 12 months to May 2022, prices increased by 8.3%.

The competitive market means desirable properties have been selling fast and some buyers have found themselves in bidding wars. As a result, many buyers are finding they need to increase their offers to secure the property they want. It’s a trend that means you may need a larger deposit or mortgage.

However, it’s not just the rise in the purchase price you need to consider. How much the property you’re buying is valued at can affect a whole host of other costs, from solicitor fees to Stamp Duty.

HMRC collected £18.6 billion in Stamp Duty in the year to March 2022

Despite the introduction of a Stamp Duty holiday from July 2020 to June 2021 to support the housing market following lockdowns, HMRC still collected a substantial amount through Stamp Duty.

The Stamp Duty holiday temporarily increased the threshold for paying the tax to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland. Wales introduced a similar holiday for Land Transaction Tax (LTT), as did Scotland for Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT).

In total, in the year to March 2022, HMRC collected £18.6 billion in Stamp Duty, an increase of £6.1 billion when compared to the previous year. And rising house prices suggest Stamp Duty receipts could increase even further in 2022/23.

According to the Zoopla statistics, 4.3 million homes across the UK have been pushed into a higher Stamp Duty tax bracket.

More than a quarter of these properties have now moved above the £125,000 Stamp Duty threshold in England and Northern Ireland. This means around an additional 1.2 million properties would now be liable for Stamp Duty when purchased.

Around 360,000 properties have now been pushed across the tax threshold of £145,000 in Scotland and £180,000 in Wales.

In addition to some properties being liable for Stamp Duty for the first time, around 2.7 million homes are now in a higher tax bracket.

If you’re planning to purchase a new home, understanding how much tax you will need to pay can help you better manage your finances.

When do you need to pay Stamp Duty, and how is it calculated?

Stamp Duty is a tax you pay when purchasing land or property that exceeds a certain threshold.

For the 2022/23 tax year, the threshold in England and Northern Ireland is £125,000. The tax rate will depend on the value of the property. Stamp Duty is charged in “slices”. This means you may pay different rates for each part of the property’s value that falls into each bracket.

So, if you purchase a property for £250,000, you will pay no Stamp Duty on the first £125,000, and a rate of 2% on the remaining £125,000. This would result in a Stamp Duty bill of £2,500.

There is a 3% surcharge for additional properties, such as a house you will let out or a holiday home.

If you’re a first-time buyer, you can benefit from a relief that means if you’re buying a property for £300,000 or less, no Stamp Duty will be due. You will also benefit from a lower rate of 5% on the proportion of the property between £300,000 and £500,000.

Your solicitor will usually deal with your Stamp Duty return and make any payment that is due. This must be done within 14 days of the property transaction. Even if the property is under the tax threshold or you will benefit from the first-time buyer relief, you must still submit a return.

If you’re purchasing property in Wales or Scotland, the thresholds and tax rates are different. There are also similar first-time buyer reliefs for LTT and LBTT.

Contact us to discuss your mortgage and property needs

As well as Stamp Duty, there are lots of things to consider when you want to move home. From securing a mortgage to navigating the legal process.

We’re here to help you find a mortgage that suits your needs and offer guidance while you buy your new property. If you’d like to talk to us, please give us a call.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A woman video conferencing on a laptop with a man.

Scams can have a devastating effect on your financial wellbeing and confidence. While investment scams may be rarer than some other types, they are often associated with losing more money and they’re on the rise.

According to statistics from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), more than £25 million was lost between January 2021 and March 2022 to a new type of fraud, dubbed “screen sharing scams”.

Criminals are taking advantage of the growing familiarity with video conferencing and screen sharing since the start of the pandemic to access sensitive information. In the last year alone, the number of reported cases has increased by 86%. On average, victims have lost more than £10,000 and, in one case, a woman lost £48,000.

47% of investors would fall victim to a screen sharing scam

Worryingly, the FCA found that almost half of investors would not spot a screen sharing scam. So, what does the scam involve?

Fraudsters will try to access your sensitive information by viewing your computer screen. This may be done by asking you to share your screen when you’re looking at your online banking or other accounts, or by requesting that you download a platform that will provide them with access.

By obtaining your personal and financial details, the scammer may be able to access things like your current account and pension. What’s more, with this information they could also take out loans or other forms of credit in your name.

The scammers will often pose as financial advisers with an investment opportunity. This is because they know you want to make the most of your money and may be more likely to overlook red flags if higher investment returns are discussed. In fact, 17% of people told the FCA they would be encouraged to act if they could secure better returns.

23% also said scammers appearing knowledgeable would tempt them, while 14% would be encouraged if the person appeared to be successful through displays of wealth.

We know we shouldn’t share sensitive information. However, the survey suggests there’s a disconnect when it comes to screen sharing and downloading software.

91% of people said they would never share their PIN with a stranger. Yet, 85% would not think a request to use or download software was a red flag. This is despite your computer potentially providing access to far more information and money than your PIN.

While the statistics suggest that older generations are more likely to need help using technology, and so are more vulnerable to screen sharing scams, younger generations aren’t immune. A quarter of investors aged between 18 and 34 said they would agree to screen share their online banking or investment portal with someone they had not met.

5 things you should do to minimise the chance of falling victim to a screen sharing scam

If you fall victim to a scam, it can be incredibly difficult to get your money back. So, taking steps to reduce the risk is important.

1. Be cautious about who you share your screen with

There are many scenarios when sharing a screen can make working or connecting easier. However, be cautious about who you do this with, particularly if you have never met the person.

If you do share your screen with someone, take a few minutes to check what they can see. Are your personal details displayed on your screen? Do any of your open windows contain information you need to keep secure?

If someone asks you to share your screen while you’re logged in to financial accounts or platforms, this should be a red flag. A legitimate financial firm will not ask you to do this.

2. Be careful when downloading software

As mentioned above, criminals may also suggest you download software to use. They may make it sound as though this will make managing your finances easier or say it is the only way to access the opportunity you’re being offered.

You should be wary if this is suggested as it may allow them to access the information stored on your computer.

3. Always check the FCA Warning List and register

Just 51% of investors would think to check the FCA’s Warning List, which allows you to verify an investment opportunity. It will highlight if a firm is authorised and regulated by the FCA, as well as providing details of known scammers.

If you’ve been approached by someone purporting to be a regulated financial services professional, the FCA register can also be useful.

It holds the details of regulated firms and individuals, and shows what they have permissions for. It also contains contact details, so you can check a fraudster isn’t pretending to be from a legitimate firm.

4. Give yourself some time

Don’t let someone rush you into making a decision. Whether it’s to arrange a meeting or invest your money, give yourself time to think through your options. Sometimes a step back is all you need to realise that something isn’t quite right.

A legitimate adviser or firm will understand why you want some space to think. High-pressure tactics, such as time-limited offers or aggressive sales calls, are warning signals.

5. Contact us

If you’re worried about scams or have any questions about an offer you’ve received, we’re here to help. A different perspective can help you spot the signs of a scam before it’s too late.

We can also offer advice on how opportunities may fit into your wider financial plan and which options make sense for your goals. Please contact us if you’d like to talk.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Someone holding glasses up to a HMRC letter.

Being a trustee comes with many responsibilities, and, in some cases, you will need to register a trust with the Trust Registration Service (TRS) by 1 September 2022 or you could incur a fine.

A trust is an arrangement that lets someone, known as the settlor, set money or assets aside for someone else, known as a beneficiary. A trust is managed by a trustee for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The settlor may set out how they want the assets in the trust to be used.

There are many reasons why you may set up a trust, from passing on assets to children to generational wealth planning.

As a trustee, you are responsible for managing the assets in a trust and the decisions you make must be done in the best interests of the beneficiary.

Read on to find out if registering a trust you manage is something you need to do.

What is the Trust Registration Service?

The TRS was set up in 2017 as part of an anti-money laundering directive. New rules were introduced in 2020 that require more UK trusts and some non-UK trusts to be registered with HMRC before the September deadline.

Trusts set up after the deadline will have 90 days to register with the TRS.

If you don’t register with the TRS, HMRC will send “nudge letters” and there is a proposed £100 fine for any subsequent offences. If trustees deliberately ignore the requirements, higher penalties could be imposed.

Do you need to register the trust you’re responsible for?

So, which trusts need to be registered before the deadline? All UK express trusts, whether or not they pay tax, must be registered unless they are on the exclusion list.

An “express trust” refers to a trust that was created by a settlor, including those set up in a will, rather than those that were created through a court decision or the operation of the law. Most trusts are express trusts.

If a non-UK trust becomes liable for tax on income coming from the UK or on UK assets, it will also need to be registered with the TRS.

Some trusts do not need to be registered with the TRS even if they are express trusts. The exclusion list includes:

  • Pension schemes
  • Charitable trusts
  • Will trusts that are wound up within two years of death
  • Policy trusts that hold financial protection that pays out on death or critical illness.

Registering a trust with HMRC

If you’re a trustee for a trust, you are responsible for registering it with TRS. If there are multiple trustees, you must nominate a “lead trustee” who will be the main point of contact for HMRC.

You can register using the Government Gateway and create an organisation ID.

You can use the gateway to make changes to your registered trust in the future and provide an agent with the authority to make changes too.

You will need to provide information that you can find on the trust deeds and letters you may have received from HMRC, including:

  • The name of the trust
  • The date the trust was created
  • Details about any UK land or property the trust has purchased.

In addition, you’ll also need to provide details for the lead trustee, the settlor, and other individuals or organisations that are involved in the trust, such as beneficiaries.

Information about what’s held in the trust, from cash and shares to material assets, will also need to be provided.

Once a trust is registered, you will receive a PDF copy of a report to show proof of registration that you should keep in a safe place.

If the trust is taxable, you must declare the register is up to date each year by 31 January.

Do you need help managing a trust?

As a trustee, sometimes your role and responsibilities may seem overwhelming.

If you’re a trustee, it’s important to keep up to date with changes and have confidence in the financial decisions you make. We’re here to offer you support.

Whether you have questions about registering a trust with the TRS, want to understand how you can make the most out of assets held in a trust, or even discuss setting up a trust yourself, we can help. Please contact us to arrange a meeting.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate trusts or estate planning.

A woman placing a coin in a piggy bank.

Inflation has been in the news for months now, as the rate increases. While you may notice the effects inflation has on the price of goods when you visit the supermarket, it can be more difficult to understand how and why it’ll affect things like your savings.

More than half of cash savers don’t know what effect inflation will have on the value of their savings, according to a Legal & General survey. And 13% believe inflation will leave them better off.

However, the opposite is true – inflation can harm the value of your savings.

Interest rates may be rising, but in real terms, the value of your savings is likely to fall

One of the steps the Bank of England is taking to control inflation is to increase its base interest rate.

As a result, after more than a decade of only benefiting from low-interest rates, the amount you earn from your savings may be starting to gradually rise.

For this reason, some may think that inflation, through the steps taken to control it, is having a positive effect on their savings. After all, the amount being added to your account in interest has increased.

To get a true picture, you need to consider how the value of your savings has changed in real terms.

In the 12 months to April 2022, the rate of inflation was 9%. So, if the interest rate you’re earning on savings is below this, the spending power of your savings falls. This is because as the cost of goods and services increases, your savings will gradually buy less and less.

While your savings may be growing thanks to interest, in real terms, the value is probably falling.

Even with interest rates rising, it’s likely that the interest your savings are earning is far below the rate of inflation. For your savings to maintain their value, the interest rate needs to keep pace with inflation.

As a result, rising inflation could harm the value of your savings and affect long-term plans.

54% of cash savers haven’t taken any action despite inflation rising

More than half of savers haven’t taken steps to limit the effects of inflation on their savings. In fact, 54% plan to keep their money in cash for the long term.

You may think the effects are small, but they can add up. If the high inflation environment continues for the next five years, it’s estimated that inaction could cost £21 billion collectively, according to the Legal & General research.

If you had £1,000 in a cash savings account earning 0.26% each year while inflation was 7%, it’d take just 11 years for the value of your savings to half in real terms.

There are still good reasons for maintaining a cash savings account. If you’re saving for short-term goals, a cash account often makes sense. Having your emergency fund in an accessible cash account is also important.

But, if you’re saving with long-term goals and financial security in mind, investing could present an alternative option.

How could investing help your savings keep pace with inflation?

Investing your money provides an opportunity for your wealth to outpace inflation, so they are growing in real terms.

Traditionally, stock markets have delivered better long-term returns than inflation and interest rates on savings. As a result, it can mean your spending power is preserved if you’re saving for a long-term goal. If you’re saving for goals that are more than five years away, investing can make sense.

Just because investing can deliver larger returns doesn’t mean that every investment is right for you. All investments have some risk, and it’s vital that you build a portfolio that reflects your risk profile and circumstances.

It’s also important to note that investment returns cannot be guaranteed and that it’s likely you will experience short-term volatility at some point. This means that the value of your investments may fall. However, you should take a long-term view as, historically, markets have recovered, even from sharp declines like the one at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you’re among those that hold cash savings and haven’t taken any steps to limit the effects of inflation, reviewing your financial plan now can help you get the most out of your assets.

Whether investing is right for you, or another option makes more sense, we can help you review your current finances and build a plan that’ll help you reach your goals. For many, this will include investing for the long term, and we’re here to answer any questions you may have and create a balanced portfolio with your goals in mind.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only. The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

An older woman working on a laptop.

More retirees are planning to work in some way after they retire. While this flexibility can boost your income and help you strike a work-life balance that suits you, it can lead to some tax implications that you need to consider.

According to a report from abrdn, just a third of people retiring in 2022 plan to give up work completely while two-thirds will continue to work. Flexible retirement is a growing trend, in 2020 just a third of retirees planned to continue working. 

When asked how they will work in retirement, 24% of those retiring this year plan to work part-time in their current job or a new position, including in the gig economy. 15% will continue to work in their own business and 12% want to use retirement to become entrepreneurs.

So, while more retirees plan to continue working, many are exploring different options that will help them build the lifestyle they want.

Financial concerns are playing a role in the flexible retirement trend, but it’s not the only reason

While creating an income in retirement is a key reason behind the flexi-retirement trend, it’s not the only one. In fact, 32% said they want something to keep them busy.

Creating a sustainable income that will last throughout your retirement can be difficult to understand. You will often need to consider a range of factors, from life expectancy to potential investment returns. So, it’s not surprising that only a quarter of 2022 retirees are confident that they’ve saved enough.

Higher levels of inflation are adding a layer of complexity.

In the 12 months to April 2022, inflation reached 9%. Retirees that don’t consider how inflation will affect their cost of living over their retirement could find that their spending power dwindles. Inflation can mean that an income that afforded a comfortable lifestyle at the start of retirement doesn’t stretch far enough in your later years unless it rises at the same pace.

Despite this, 27% of retirees said they didn’t know how to mitigate the effect of inflation on their retirement income.

Financial planning can help you understand how your pension savings and other assets can help you build an income you can rely on in retirement. It means you can start this chapter of your life with confidence. For some, it may mean they continue to work past their retirement date.

Financial planning could also help you make your income more tax-efficient if you do plan to continue working in retirement. Just 25% of retirees that want to work are aware of the potential tax implications, and it could mean they face a larger bill than they expect.

3 important questions to consider if you’ll work in retirement

One of the reasons tax can become more complex if you want a flexible retirement is that your income may come from multiple sources and may change depending on your needs.

These three questions can help you understand how your decisions will affect how much tax you pay, and what you can do to reduce your tax bill.

1. Will you access your pension while you work?

If you’re earning an income from working, will you still need to access your pension?

If you have a defined contribution (DC) pension, you can access it flexibly from the age of 55, rising to 57 in 2028. This can help you secure the income you need even if your income from work changes.

However, your pension may be subject to Income Tax, so it’s important to understand how withdrawals will affect your overall tax liability. If your total income exceeds tax thresholds, you could find you pay a higher rate of Income Tax than you expect.

If you don’t need your pension to supplement your income, leaving it where it is can make sense. Money held in a pension is typically invested and can grow free from Capital Gains Tax. So, leaving it invested until you need it can help your savings go further.

2. Will you continue to pay into your pension?

An advantage of continuing to work is that you may still be able to pay into a pension, this can boost your financial security later in life.

If you’re an employee under the State Pension Age and earning more than £10,000 in the 2022/23 tax year, your employer must automatically enrol you into a pension, and contribute on your behalf. Even if you’re not automatically enrolled, you can still add to a pension and benefit from tax relief.

One thing to be aware of is the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA). If you access your pension to take an income, the amount you can tax-efficiently add to your pension each tax year may fall to just £4,000. If you unwittingly exceed this limit, you could face an additional tax charge unexpectedly.

3. Will you claim the State Pension?

If you plan to work past the State Pension Age, you should consider if you’ll still claim the State Pension.

The State Pension may be liable for Income Tax if your entire income exceeds the Personal Allowance, and it could push you into a higher tax bracket. As a result, if you don’t need the income, it can make sense to defer your State Pension for tax reasons.

If you do decide to defer your State Pension, you will receive a higher amount when you claim it. Your State Pension payments would increase by 1% for every nine weeks you defer, which is just under 5.8% if you defer for a year.

If you want to make the most out of your retirement savings, a tailored financial plan that considers your assets, lifestyle decisions, and goals could help reduce your tax liability and give you peace of mind. If you’d like to arrange a meeting with us to talk about your retirement, please contact us.

Please note: This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.

Financial protection is an important part of creating long-term security. Yet, it’s something that many people overlook.

Appropriate financial protection can provide you or your family with an income or lump sum when you need it most. It can create a valuable safety net and help ensure you’re still able to meet financial commitments if something unexpected happens.

If financial protection isn’t something you’ve thought about, this guide can help you answer questions like:

  • What is financial protection?
  • How does financial protection add value to your financial plan?
  • What are the different types of financial protection, and which ones are right for you?
  • What things do you need to consider when selecting financial protection?

Download “Your complete guide to financial protection” to learn more and understand if financial protection is right for you.

If you’d like to discuss how financial protection could help your family or whether existing policies are providing the protection you need, please contact us. We’ll help you select the appropriate financial protection that gives you peace of mind.

A recent survey from Direct Line showed that one in four landlords report not being able to keep up with changing regulations. Therefore, it may be a bit of a shock to many landlords to hear that from 2025, all newly rented properties will require an energy performance certificate rating of C or above, with this deadline extended to 2028 for existing tenancies (please note these dates are subject to change).

Failure to comply will lead to a property becoming unrentable.

Making changes to improve a property’s energy efficiency rating will help to improve the overall energy efficiency of the UK housing stock and to assist the government in meeting the ambitious net-carbon zero targets set out earlier this year.

But on a more direct level, making the improvements ahead of the impending 2025 deadline will ensure that properties remain commercially viable for the short and long term for landlords. Putting off making necessary changes could leave landlords exposed to extended void periods when their property can’t be rented out while works are being completed.

What can be done to improve the EPC rating?

If you’re a landlord, you’ll need to prepare, especially if your rating is at E to G. You can start by making sure that you have done the following to improve your EPC rating.

1. Improve your lighting to LED light bulbs.

2. Insulate the walls and roof.

3. Improve windows with double or triple glazing.

4. Install an energy-efficient boiler.

5. Use a smart meter.

Generally, investing in renewable energy will help to improve your EPC of your rental property, especially using products such as solar panels and ground-source heat pumps.

But beware – analysis from Habito published late 2021 found the average cost of upgrading a property from just an EPC ‘D’ rating to ‘C’ is £6,155.  A cost that, at the moment, the landlord needs to burden. So it is inevitable that more than half (52%) of landlords with properties with an Energy Performance Certificate of D or below are considering selling due to the rules requiring them to improve their rating, according to research from The Mortgage Works (TMW).

Eco-friendly properties could also lower your mortgage costs

A growing number of banks and building societies will offer landlords a lower interest rate if their home is more energy-efficient.

Green mortgages may offer lower interest rates, as they are viewed as more valuable to prospective buyers and renters who would benefit from lower energy bills. But you will usually need an EPC rating of A or B to qualify for a green mortgage.

If you’re looking for an eco-property to let out or are carrying out work to improve a property, reviewing green mortgages could help you get more out of your investment.

Please contact us to discuss your mortgage needs.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Some buy-to-let mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

It’s fair to say that the UK is addicted to sport.

After two years of events being affected by the Covid pandemic to some extent or another, there’s more of an excited air of anticipation than usual as we approach the summer. So, here’s a guide to 10 amazing sporting events you should put in your calendar for the coming months.

From The Derby to the Commonwealth Games being held in Birmingham, there are plenty of ways sports fans can fill their schedule this summer.

Whether you want to see if Emma Raducanu will win at Wimbledon in front of a home crowd, or see if Lewis Hamilton’s duel with Max Verstappen continues into the Formula 1 2022 season at the British Grand Prix, there’s something for everyone on this list.

Find more information, tips, and details about tickets by downloading “The top 10 sporting events coming to the UK in summer 2022” now.

View of Auckland from Mount Eden.

For many people, travelling abroad has been put on hold for the last two years. As pandemic restrictions continue to lift around the world, you may be planning a city break to explore a new culture and escape.

Keep in mind that Covid-19 rules vary around the world. You should check what restrictions are in place before you book a holiday and keep in mind that these could change. You should also check what your travel insurance would cover if Covid-19 affected your travel plans.

From Dublin, Ireland, to Merida, Mexico, these are the 10 cities you should consider a trip to this year according to Lonely Planet.

1. Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is surrounded by natural, rugged beauty, including more than 50 volcanos and several beaches. The diversity of the culture and creativity on show throughout the city led to it taking the top spot in this year’s list of incredible urban areas to visit.

A trip to New Zealand presents the perfect opportunity to learn more about Maori culture, explore vibrant night markets, and hike through lush forests. As the water is never far away, you can take a ferry to the nearby islands and thrill-seekers can try their hand at the likes of rafting, paddle boarding, and surfing.

2. Taipei, Taiwan

One of the reasons Taipei was ranked number two by Lonely Planet was the amazing culinary scene the city offers. If you’re a foodie and want to indulge your tastebuds while on holiday, this could be the destination for you. Local dishes including niu rou mian (beef noodle soup) and hujiao bing (pepper buns) are must-tries.

When you’re not sampling street food, this 300-year-old city has a lot to offer. Old buildings, from barracks to villas, have been carefully restored so you feel like you’ve stepped back in time in parts of the city.

3. Freiburg, Germany

Freiburg is an ancient university town with winding cobbled lanes, gabled townhouses, and a stunning cathedral. It’s a delightful mix of traditional quaintness and modern vibrancy thanks to the combination of history and a thriving student population.

Located at the foot of the Black Forest, there are plenty of opportunities to explore nature and the setting that inspired some of the Brothers Grimm’s best-known fairy tales.

4. Atlanta, USA

If you think of places you want to visit in the US, a few cities could spring to mind. If Atlanta isn’t one of them, you could be missing out.

The fast-growing city is a chance to experience the renowned culture, food and hospitality of the south. The city played an important role in African American history and culture, including being the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. While Atlanta is a thriving urban centre, it’s got plenty of green spaces too. In fact, more than a third of the city is covered in trees.

5. Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos is a great destination if you want to explore music and art. Known for being lively, the city is bustling with creative people and promises to deliver a unique city trip. If you’re an art fan, the Nike Centre for Art and Culture is a must-visit – you’ll not only find a large collection to admire but can watch artists honing their skills too.

It’s not all about a busy city centre though. The Lekki Conservation Centre will take you back to nature and boasts the longest canopy walkway in Africa, so you have a great opportunity to spot local wildlife.

6. Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus

The city of Nicosia, or “Lefkosia” in Greek, has been split since 1974. It’s one of the world’s only remaining divided capital cities, with its Greek and Turkish halves largely separate. There’s still a wall splitting the city but there are an increasing number of cross-culture projects.

The old walled city is lively and packed with bars, restaurants, and craftspeople. Be sure to take part in the café culture and try a traditional cake.

7. Dublin, Ireland

A little closer to home, Dublin is a great destination for a long weekend city break. Of course, there are plenty of traditional Irish pubs to explore, but the city has a lot more to offer too.

Dublin has a wealth of medieval castles, cathedrals, and other historical relics to visit. Well worth a visit are Dublin Castle, Trinity College Library, and Kilmainham Gaol. Booking a tour around the Guinness factory is popular – it ends at the Gravity bar, which boasts incredible views across Dublin’s skyline.

8. Merida, Mexico

Merida is steeped in colonial history and its narrow streets hold many hidden gems. From cultural museums to thriving markets, there’s something for everyone in Merida. The evenings are lively too, with a huge selection of performances, festivals, and entertainment often available to choose from.

As well as tucking into incredible Mexican dishes, you have a wealth of nature and ancient Mayan ruins close by to explore. This city is the perfect place to start exploring the stunning Yucatan region.

9. Florence, Italy

Italy is known for beautiful architecture, an interesting history, and delicious food. This year, if you want to head to the country, why not try Florence?

Situated in the region of Tuscany, its compact size means it’s perfect for a short break. But that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to do. There are masterpieces at every turn, from churches decorated with frescos to Michelangelo’s David housed in the Accademia Gallery of Florence. It’s also a great base for exploring more of the region, with day-trip options including San Gimignano, Pisa, and Bologna.

10. Gyeongju, South Korea

South Korea has become a tourist hot-spot in recent years. While Seoul is on many bucket lists, Gyeongju may have fallen off your radar.

Known as a “museum without walls”, you can expect to find temples, pagodas, tombs, rock carvings, and much more. It’s the perfect destination for history buffs, and the 1,000-year-old Bulguksa Temple is a must-visit. It’s a great location to get outdoors too, with the chance to hike around Gyeongju National Park.